South Sudan: Change or no Change of the SPLM-IO Leadership

Posted: August 17, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

By Gatkuoth Majiok Chol, Juba, South Sudan

Riek Machar Teny, the armed rebel leader

Friday, August 16, 2019 (PW) — South Sudan is one of the most beautiful and blessed nations on earth, not only with harmonious and peacefully co-existing tribes, but with massive resources and rich cultural heritage. Her beautiful social life character was a driving force that forms powerful links between tribes and makes them live in absolute peace with each other. But, since the war erupted in mid-December 2013, the new state became a place where the vultures gathered and country’ beauty was vandalized. The intensity of the fighting has severely weakened tribal links, relationship and destroyed both properties and infrastructures. The indiscriminate killing of innocent’ civilian continues to rise where the majority of the losses respectively occurred in the areas controlled by government forces.

The conflict had brought mind-boggling and dejection to the many citizens who see themselves sufferings and dying in the hand of their own government. They see President Kiir as impotent to improve the security or incompetent to end the six years old conflict. Our people have suffered enough, if the blood of the victims could be visible on the ground; I’m sure some part in South Sudan should have a red mark on the surface. If God could hear the cries of orphans and widows instantly, those individual people who committed atrocities and defiles our nation should be sweep away and wouldn’t be alive today. And if the starvation kills people like a disease, half of the South Sudanese population, should be dead by now.

To be frank, the recent raucous muddle discussions on social media about replacing or changing the leader of the Sudan People Liberation Movement In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) for not executed an efficient exertion to win the war is an inharmonious to the peace agreement. These insubstantial views and opinions have flared an ethical debate toward SPLM-IO leadership strategy on how to fight the war. Without hesitation, I decided to add my thoughts even though the bawling of the leadership change has an inefficient weight to wave the hearts of the majority of SPLM-IO supporters, but still, the circumspection is needed to void a possible peril within the Movement.

The issue has emerged at an unbefitting time where the fracture of the Movement shouldn’t be encouraged or permit. Besides that, it would be notable to acknowledge the dangerous role and an extremely challenging’s that the rebel leader may be facings.

In preside, the rebel leader often remains as the most wanted person in the group by government with intention to disarray or dismantle the supporters. For that regard, the efforts of the leader of armed group have never been praised or respected by any existing government in the world. In a very simple scenario, the government hates the rebel leader like the way you hate the boyfriend of your daughter or sister whom you often chase round if you see him standing in the backyard of the house.

You disrespect him regardless of how good or humble he is, for fear to blight something that very precious to you. In the same manner, the government would never admire or appreciate a rebel leader effort, since the whole rebel campaign is to pose a security risk to the government such as insecurity, interrupt the services and demand the removal of the president or introduce general reforms. All government efforts to find a suitable venue to disassemble the armed group through their chairperson. 

Some rebel leaders had gone through hardship like Dr Riek Machar, but their supporters stand as single-minded and indefatigable, despite the tribulations that they endured during the absent of their leader. For example, Mr Danny Kogoya, the rebel leader of the Papuan militant group, he was shot by government security forces when he was unarmed.  He was jailed on manslaughter charges and his leg was amputated without his permission in jail.  But his supporter continues to fight government forces with bows and arrows until he managed to escape a year later. Now he is commanding his troop as the leader in the bush with one leg.

The second example was the former rebel leader of East Timorese Xanana Gusmao which was arrested by the Indonesia government and spent more than six years in jail out of 20 years sentenced for fighting Indonesia forces. While he was in prison, his supporter remains loyal to him and never claimed to replace or change him even though they don’t communicate with him, until he was released to permit him to participate in peace negotiation to find a solution to the conflict on his capacity as leader of the armed group.

In same sequence, the supporter of SPLM-IO had made vigorous campaigned to their chairman to release him from South Africa house arrest. They insisted until Dr Riek Machar was permit to take part in peaceful negotiation in Khartoum on his capacity as a leader of SPLM-IO. Due to your extra ordinary endeavour, you should proud and congratulated yourselves for infrequent achievement that you have accomplished through your powerful vocal which had broken injustice. To be sincere, the change or removal of the leader of an armed group has never been made publicly like the removal of the president of a state.

One reason for this is because the armed group has top-down politic that bear an undemocratic hierarchy which based only with order and command. That is why very rare to see the leader of an armed group handing over the leadership to junior’s officers who were under his or her command. The effect of the change often leads to split or deadly fight between the two groups. The normal military leadership change procedure always occurs merely by conducting or organizing a secret coup against the leader either to kill, arrest or defect from that system.

Base on the above concrete evidence, it would be wise for us to give limited systematic concern to external influences and laborious politician who proclaim their baseless allegations about the leadership change.  There is no doubt that success is certain as SPLM-IO leadership had gained popular recognition support both in the region and beyond as the legitimate armed struggle that has the military power to end apartheid in the country.

Therefore, let us rally behind Dr Riek Machar as the leader since he has the capacity and energy to move forward in bringing lasting peace in the country. In meantime, we should distant ourselves from political miscarriage and we should only concentrating on maintaining unity while combining our efforts to mobilise our people for peace. The only comprehensive exit from this deliberated conflict would entirely depend on the trust of both parties and how to implement the Khartoum Peace Agreement that hopes to bear fruit after the formation a Transitional Government of National unity (TGNU) in November 2019.

Finally, I do understand that mistakes happen to any human being, but let us both say no to the change of the SPLM-IO leadership for the sake of peace, unity and stability.  If you are SPLM-IO or Government supporters, let us be vociferous for urgent implantation of the Khartoum Peace Agreement per agreed period.  Our collective desire goal is to achieve lasting peace and make our country prosper and great again through forgiveness, reconciliation and think-bigger for what is best for the mass population. God did not create us by mistake or given us South Sudan to kills or hates ourselves, but to serve, love and support one another. May God bless you and let us hope for the better peace to reign soon in South Sudan.

You can reach the author via his email: Gatkuoth Chol <>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.


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